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Floods, Famines, And Emperors:
Before 1997, the name "El Niņo" was unknown to most ordinary folks. Meteorologists, oceanographers, commercial fishers, and weather buffs knew of this periodic climatic anomaly, but to the everyday person on the street, a few degrees' difference in the Pacific Ocean's temperature was irrelevant. Then one of the most powerful El Niņos in recorded history caused bitter freezes in Europe, brutal snowstorms and floods in western North America, and deadly droughts throughout the South Pacific. People sat up and took notice as a relatively tiny change in oceanic temperature resulted in death and destruction in many parts of the globe.
Brian Fagan examines the social effects of El Niņo and other powerful weather phenomena in Floods, Famines and Emperors. He gives plenty of examples of how cultures have adapted to stressful weather and the ways in which climatic alterations have changed the course of history. From droughts in ancient Egypt to monsoons in India, the far-reaching effects of meteorology's most cantankerous kid have deeply affected the way humans live in the world. Illustrated with useful maps and diagrams, Floods, Famines and Emperors is a clear, fascinating look at an aspect of climate studies--and of El Niņo--mostly ignored by science. --Therese Littleton [via]